Beyond The Chinese Connection
Contemporary Afro-Asian Cultural Production
From Bruce Lee to Samurai Champloo, how Asian fictions fuse with African American creative sensibilities
In Beyond “The Chinese Connection,” Crystal S. Anderson explores the cultural and political exchanges between African Americans, Asian Americans, and Asians over the last four decades. To do so, Anderson examines such cultural productions as novels (Frank Chin’s Gunga Din Highway , Ishmael Reed’s Japanese by Spring , and Paul Beatty’s The White Boy Shuffle ); films (Rush Hour 2 , Unleashed , and The Matrix trilogy [1999-2003]); and Japanese animation (Samurai Champloo ), all of which feature cross-cultural conversations. In exploring the ways in which writers and artists use this transferal, Anderson traces and tests the limits of how Afro-Asian cultural production interrogates conceptions of race, ethnic identity, politics, and transnational exchange.
Ultimately, this book reads contemporary black/Asian cultural fusions through the recurrent themes established by the films of Bruce Lee, which were among the first—and certainly most popular—works to use this exchange explicitly. As a result of such films as Enter the Dragon (1973), The Chinese Connection (1972), and The Big Boss (1971), Lee emerges as both a cross-cultural hero and global cultural icon who resonates with the experiences of African American, Asian American and Asian youth in the 1970s. Lee’s films and iconic imagery prefigure themes that reflect cross-cultural negotiations with global culture in post-1990 Afro-Asian cultural production.
The 1955 Bandung conference dream of Pan-African and Pan-Asian unity has a sequel, writes Crystal S. Anderson, in the rise of post-1970s Afro-Asian cultural production. She ably shows us how Bruce Lee, Frank Chin and Ishmael Reed novels, Hollywood remakes and the political panavision of kung-fu cinema all embody the aspirations and contradictions entailed in forging Black-Asian identification and solidarity. This polycultural multimedia study puts political pop into popular culture.- Bill V. Mullen, professor of English and American studies at Purdue University
In this tightly argued, sophisticated work, Crystal Anderson takes us Beyond 'The Chinese Connection' to a capacious world of imperialism, transnational capital, and global culture. Close readings of the iconic, anti-colonial and anti-capitalist Bruce Lee and Afro-Asian films, novels, and anime of the post-1990 period reveal the processes of 'cultural emulsion' and 'cultural translation' that produce subject positions, male friendships, and group conflicts and solidarities. Those crossings stir the imagination and induce a liberating consciousness.- Gary Y. Okihiro, author of Pineapple Culture: A History of the Tropical and Temperate Zones